Sun Rising Newt

Newts

Although the development of the pond at Sun Rising is still slow, we did spot some newtlets earlier in the year.  Now those little creatures are turning into newts …

Sun Rising Newt

Sun Rising Newt

Stormclouds over the Roundhouse

Clouds

A beautiful photo taken of the Roundhouse, the seeding grasses in the wind, just before a summer storm …

Stormclouds over the Roundhouse

Stormclouds over the Roundhouse

Roses by the Roundhouse

Roses and the Meadow

After such a long hard winter, and such a slow start to the summer, the wildflower meadow burst into life in early June and was a blaze of colour for a wonderful six weeks.  The roses were better than ever before, both the wild dog roses and field roses in the hedgerows and on graves, and the David Austin roses around the Roundhouse.  Rosa rubus comes into flower first, and then Rosa Frances E Lester, shown here in the photograph.

Roses by the Roundhouse

Roses by the Roundhouse

With a month of such hot and dry weather in July, however, the season has been a short one, the wildflowers going to seed very early.  You can see knapweed here in the photograph, a few oxeye daisies, betony, and buttercups, amidst the seeding wild grasses.  It is now the thistles that are coming through, the teasels flowering, the field scabious and meadow cranesbill bringing soft mauves and purples to the burial ground through the tall hay of the grasses, playing in the wind.  And around the edges, there are the soft pinks of the bramble flowers and willowherbs.  The older crab apples are also now fruiting – memorial trees that are over five years old.

And thankfully the butterflies, hoverflies and bees, so late in appearing, are now with us in abundance.  Meadow browns, gatekeepers, whites, small skippers, small heath butterflies, and a whole range of moths I can’t begin to identify.  If you come up to Sun Rising, you’ll see the meadows going to seed, beautifully tatty with such subtle colours and lines, and the whole thing humming with life.

We shall begin to mow over the coming weeks, first strimming the grasses that have fallen in wind and rain, and under footfall.  If you have any queries, do let us know.

Yellow Flowers

It was in March that the first of the daffodils came out at Sun Rising, and almost immediately the site was covered with a foot of snow.  I worried that many of them wouldn’t make it through that very cold period, but over a month later there are still daffodils out.

yellow spring

Now the dandelions are coming out!  And yes, there are still too many of them at Sun Rising.  We have removed some, but there are  areas which are again becoming monocultures, which isn’t good for the ecosystem.  Nonetheless, they do look beautiful for a while!

The larger cherries are coming into flower as well, offering some white flowers to the profusion of yellow, but the soft new leaves of the hawthorn and willow are still almost yellow.  After a burst of spring rain, the place just sparkles in the sunlight, every flower shining with its yellow brilliance.

Flowerbuds on the Blackthorn

Spring’s Buds

After a few beautifully warm March days, we have the soft drizzle once again.  For those who feel the damp in their bones, these are difficult days, full of aches and niggles, and when we are coping with grief as well grey skies don’t help.

What does help, I think, are the signs of spring that so reassure us that ahead of us lie warm dry days.  At the burial ground, along with the snowdrops and primroses, the first daffodils have flower buds swelling which, with another day of sunshine, will burst open in all their golden glory.

Other buds are also full of promise.  The cherries are pushing out their spiky leaf buds, the red leaf buds on the roses are beginning too, and the black leaf buds of the ash are growing every day.  On the hawthorn, the leaf buds are pinky red, and the creamy buds on the blackthorn are suddenly spreading over their grey thorny twigs: these are flower buds, and in a few weeks with a little more sunshine they will open bringing a froth of white to the hedgerows.

Flowerbuds on the Blackthorn

Flowerbuds on the Blackthorn at Sun Rising

I know we could all use some warm dry weather.  Until it comes, let us find strength in nature’s beauty and her promise of renewal!

New Life

This new fall of snow has been quite different from that which fell in January.  Light and fluffy, it has settled on the lightest twigs and branches, and creating a canopy over the winter grass and natural litter under which little creatures can find shelter from the cold wind.  Under such a canopy the first snowdrops are coming through at Sun Rising.  Most are still hidden by the snow covering, but some are breaking through.  In this photo you can see the space under the snow.

snowdrops

The snow is starting to melt now so should cause no more disturbance to visitors.  However, after the very wet year, summer and winter, the ground is still waterlogged making it hard to keep the standards of tidiness and care that we aim for: nature is really getting the upper hand with respect to mud.
We’d ask visitors, too, to watch where they put their feet now if walking off the stone paths and tracks, for there are now the leaves of snowdrops, daffodils and other early arrivals, peaking through the earth.  A heavy foot can damage or destroy the plant all too easily.

Winter Blessings

The beauty of winter is now evident at Sun Rising, with deep hoar frost and layers of snow bring a very necessary freeze to the earth and plants.  Of course, it is also leaving visitors and funerals thoroughly frozen, but we are doing what we can to inspire our fellow human beings to wrap up in a dozen layers, and feel a little of nature’s wonder.

Frosty Saplings

Frosty Saplings

If you are intending to visit the burial ground during this period of snow and ice, please be aware that the lane is not treated with salt, and can be slippery.  Because of the toxicity of the salt, we use it very sparingly at the burial ground, as well, and the floor of the Roundhouse may also be icy.

First of the Snow

Winter Colours

The frost has been beautiful at Sun Rising, with a softening of the greens and greys under white hoar frost, and then a few days ago we had a few inches of snow, looking brilliant against the last of the rose hips.

First of the Snow

First of the Snow

It has been perfect weather for tree planting.  Over the past few weeks we have put in about 120 trees, all native deciduous species, as memorial trees and around the nature reserve, in sunshine, with frost underfoot.  What an honour to be a part of this beautiful project in this beautiful landscape.

Wild Service Trees

The Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis) was fairly common on the clay soil of south Warwickshire at one time.  It was called the checker tree, and the fruits are edible.  Indeed, they are said to taste rather like dates, although I’ve yet to try one.  Once they were regularly planted because they were used in the brewery trade, to flavour the beer – when hops became the staple, across the nation, the checker wasn’t deemed such a useful tree.

It is a beautiful tree though, and we are so happy to be reintroducing it to its native landscape at Sun Rising.  They are elegant, straight trees, with large maple like leaves, and this year, when the autumn leaf colour has been so exceptional, the wild service tree has been one of the most exquisite.

Autumn colour of the Wild Service Tree

Autumn colour of the Wild Service Tree

The other trees with remarkable colour this year have been the guelder rose, whose leaves have gone deep burgundy red, and the blackthorn, surprisingly, with a vibrant pale gold that seems to shimmer even without sunshine.  As the last of the leaves disappear in the storms, we are happy to be approaching tree planting time, and full of hope for another generation of trees.